October 9, 2015

Planting herbs in containers makes it easier to harvest for dinner when inclement weather strikes.
Cyn Cady

Settle down, it’s not what you think. Or maybe it is. Either way, as the weather turns from balmy to gnarly and a trip to the garden on a cold rainy day sounds about as appealing as a sharp stick to the eye, it’s nice to have some of the frequently used veggies and herbs close at hand. Enter the pot garden.

Yes, I’m talking about a mini-veggie garden in containers, on the porch or just outside the back door. When I just need a quick handful of rosemary or a little bit of lettuce, it’s much less daunting to have them in a spot where I can dart out between the raindrops and grab what I need.

I’m putting a few kinds of lettuce and some sage, rosemary and thyme into pots this fall and winter. As an experiment, I’m also potting a few Brussels sprouts starts. Any of the perennials that make it until spring will earn a place in the “real” garden. Until then, I have a wine-barrel planter outside the back door and a few miscellaneous pots in among the decorative plants on the front porch.

In all honesty, if you follow the traditional “a thrill, a spill and a fill” method of filling a decorative planter, a few colorful types of romaine or a Brussels sprout plant can provide the thrill, thyme is a great spill, and parsley, sage, rosemary or more compact lettuces fit the fill bill. So not only are some of my favorites within grabbing distance, but they actually fit right in with the glamor girls decorating my deck and porch. They actually look better than my straggly summer container garden plants right now because they’re freshly planted and vigorous, whereas some of the others—annuals, mostly—are getting a bit feeble.

I really like having a lot of sage on hand because I use it dried as well as fresh; likewise, thyme and oregano, so they will always have a place in the Fortress Garden, but having a few in the Fortress Garden Pot Annex lets me embrace my lazy, wimpy side. Sounds like a win-win to me!

Kale, chard and spinach are also good contenders for container veggie gardens, but we plow through those kinds of greens in such massive quantities, it’s not really practical for us. It’s not unusual for me to eat kale at every meal. Trying to keep up with the kale demand in our household would mean we’d have about 10 big pots of it hogging all the porch space. Not happening. Heck, it takes two huge bunches just to whip up a batch of kale chips—I would wipe out a container supply in a single afternoon.

Even though my “pot garden” isn’t cannabis-based, I still get a buzz from it. The bliss of winter gardening combined with easy access to herbs and veggies that add flair to the dinner table is tough to beat.

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